Close to two weeks into President Muhammadu Buhari’s second term in Office, many of the Ministers who were confident of being re-appointed, are no longer sure about their fate, as the waiting game continues.
However, Aso Rock insiders revealed that the gap between the end of the last administration and the inauguration of the 9th National Assembly, has provided the President an opportunity to reflect on his decision to retain most of the Ministers that worked with him during his first term.
There has also been intense lobbying home and abroad, for positions in the cabinet.
An insider disclosed that the President has continued to keep everybody guessing on the final list.
“The President has given nothing away basically”, said the insider, who is ordinarily in the know of things.
“Up till now, we do not know if he would pick 36 Ministers, as he did in 2015, or 42, by picking an additional Minister per geo-political zone. And nobody can say for sure, that they know who is on the list and who is not. The President is keeping everything closed to his chest
“Rotimi Amaechi, former Minister of Transportation, is naturally expected to return, having failed to install a Candidate of his choice, in trying to unseat Nyesom Wike as the Governor of his home State, Rivers.
“Buhari, for obvious reasons, cannot drop Amaechi from the cabinet. It would amount to double jeopardy for Amaechi, after the events in Rivers”, the insider said.
Suleiman Hussein Adamu, who was Minister of Water Resources, is still expected to return. He is one of the closest Ministers to the President, and a very influential one at that.
Hadi Sirika, the Minister of State for Aviation, is also on the list of probables, along with Suleiman Hassan, the Minster of Environment, who previously served in the Housing portfolio, as well as AbdulRahman Dambazzau, the Interior Minister, and Lai Mohammed, the Minister of Information, who has a personal relationship with the President.
Babatunde Fashola, the erstwhile Minister of Works, Power and Housing, was initially thought to be on the list of probables, and was being considered for the Minister of the Federal Capital Territory, FCT, but things have become hazy, with the entry of Akinwunmi Ambode, the former Governor of Lagos State, into the fray.
Ambode was muscled out of the Lagos State Governorship election, after falling out with Bola Tinubu, his estranged godfather, and appears set to be compensated with an appointment by Buhari.
“If Buhari goes for 42 Ministers, Ambode will fill the slot of either Lagos or the South-West, but nobody can say for sure how the President’s mind is working”, the second insider said.
Abubakar Malami, the former Attorney-General of the Federation, AGF, and Minister of Justice, may be returned to his former portfolio. It was learnt that he is already preparing to return to his former position, and has informed his Associates about it.
Ibe Kachikwu, the Minister of State for Petroleum Resources, is also a possible returnee, according to Aso Rock insiders.
Kachikwu, a man of big ideas, found it particularly difficult to push through his reform agenda, during Buhari’s first term.
He did not however, get along with Maikanti Baru, his successor as the Group Managing Director, GMD, of the Nigerian National Petroleum Corporation, NNPC.
Baru is due for retirement from NNPC, and is interested in replacing Kachikwu as Minister.
Baru could also be one of the new faces in the new cabinet, if the President picks him.